Monday, May 5, 2014

P R A Y A W A Y !

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayers at town council meetings do not violate the U.S. Constitution.  In a 5-4 decision, the court said the content of the prayers are fine, so long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or are used to proselyte people of other faiths. The lawsuit, Greece vs. Galloway- was brought by two citizens of Greece, NY who were afraid non-Christians could be offended by the prayers offered before the council meetings.  A lower court ruled in the town’s favor, but the ruling was overturned by the federal appeals court.  The town then appealed to the nation’s highest court. 
Four observations regarding the ruling;
First, public prayer is a tradition in America.  Public prayer predates the founding of our country.   At the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin, one of the least religious founders, said, “I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.”  Even Franklin recognized that calling upon the Creator was important.  Up until 1962, most public schools opened the day with prayer.  But for fifty years, school children in America have not been able to publicly pray in school. The liberals have successfully lobbied to make American society tolerant and inclusive for everyone but Christians.
Second, public prayer isn’t what it used to be.   Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the public prayers are largely ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions. "The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Kennedy said.  The sad commentary on Kennedy’s statement is that it is true- public prayers today are largely ceremonial.  Many who offer public prayer try to be inclusive and to not offend anyone in attendance.    
Third, no court of man can sanction or ban prayer.  That is the fallacy of the ruling.  Nine black-robed justices can neither mandate nor stop public prayer.  They can sanction a ritualistic prayer before a council meeting or stop the prayer before a football game (they did that in 1992), but in reality, prayer is personal communication with God.  Charles Spurgeon said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is a spiritual commerce with the Creator of heaven and earth.”  I’m sure you have heard the adage, “so long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in school.” 
Fourth, the Supreme Court has been inconsistent on rulings regarding public prayer.  In 1962, the court ruled that prayer in public schools was unconstitutional.  In 1983, the court ruled the Nebraska legislature could open their sessions with prayer.  In 1992, the high court ruled a student’s prayer before a football game was a violation of the constitution.  Now this week’s ruling in favor of prayer.  The reason for the inconsistency is the make-up of the court at any given time.  Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life by the President.  Currently we have what is generally considered a ‘conservative’ court, even though that is certainly debatable.    
This week’s ruling was good for America.  Our country certainly needs public prayer, but more importantly than fighting to make sure a ‘tradition’ is preserved, we need to implore the God of heaven and earth, privately, to regenerate hearts in America and to draw men to Him.

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